Relativity said it has formed 278 Films, which will distribute indie films through the company’s national distribution platform. The stand-alone label will be for producers looking for distribution services while managing their own P&A and as such those …
EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media has signed on for King Of Cocaine, and the long-gestating Brad Furman-directed biopic of Medellin Cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar is finally in shape to start production in Colombia in January. In an intriguing development, John Leguizamo has been set to play the lead role. After watching actors from Oscar Isaac to Benecio Del Toro circle this and other Escobar pics, Leguizamo got the job basically because he refused to take no for an answer, a trait that Escobar could probably relate to if he was still alive.
Leguizamo, who was born in Colombia, has long felt he was born to play the role of Escobar, who rose from poverty to riches as a notorious drug kingpin until his murderous reign ended in a hail of bullets in 1993. How did Leguizamo get the job? Furman made his first film with Leguizamo, The Take, and he has always credited the actor with giving him his directing career. He wanted Leguizamo from the start. But the foreign sales numbers didn’t work. They worked better with actors like Oscar Isaac.
After Inside Llewyn Davis star Isaac dropped out, Leguizamo was once again told no by producer/financier Scott Steindorff, with whom he had just worked in the Jon Favreau-directed Chef. Leguizamo then went out and spent upwards of $15,000 of his own money for a fat suit and prosthetic makeup that rendered him a dead ringer for Escobar at his prime. Leguizamo and Furman filmed a screen test, and got it to Steindorff, who once again said no. Furman fought for it and got the producer to submit it to Relativity execs, without disclosing the identity of the actor. It not only showed him portraying Escobar, it even had a split screen comparison to the actual drug kingpin. Relativity’s Tucker Tooley and Ryan Kavanaugh for the test enough to ask who the actor was. Furman told them, and suddenly they took Leguizamo seriously. He was hired shortly after to star in the $25 million film. If this gives Leguizamo a new identity, it follows a tradition of examples that include the time that Coppola shot Al Pacino from low angle to get him The Godfather lead and did the famous test with Marlon Brando, who stuffed cotton in his cheeks. Or the time that Elijah Wood went Middle Earth for his own screen test and won over Peter Jackson for The Lord Of The Rings.
Missed them first time round? Check them out:
Squash Those Petitions! Why Ben Affleck As Batman Is Good Move For Warner Bros
By Mike Fleming Jr - OPINION: I was as surprised as anyone when Ben Affleck was named the new Batman by Warner Bros.
(Beverly Hills, Calif.) August 19, 2013 – Relativity announced today that Russell Schwartz, a consultant to the studio, is joining the company as President of Theatrical Marketing. In addition, the studio announced that Dana Precious will take on the newly created position of President of Creative Advertising. Schwartz will report to both Relativity President Tucker Tooley and CEO Ryan Kavanaugh. Precious will report to Tooley, who made the announcement.
Schwartz and Precious will jointly create and manage all aspects of Relativity’s marketing campaigns for its feature films including Luc Besson’s The Family, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon, Jimmy Hayward’s Free Birds and Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace.
Terry Curtin has decided to leave the studio to start her own consulting company.
“Russell is an extremely talented, resourceful and innovative marketer, and I have long admired and respected his campaigns since we first worked together at New Line,” commented Tooley. “Relativity is also incredibly fortunate to have such a creative force as Dana join our marketing leadership team as the studio continues to grow.”
Tooley added: “We thank Terry for her years of hard work and dedication to the studio. She has crafted creative marketing campaigns for some of the company’s most successful films. We are very grateful for Terry’s help in building Relativity into the successful studio it is today.”
Relativity Media has dropped a new trailer for Romeo And Juliet starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth as the star-crossed teenage lovers. Cast also includes Stellan Skarsgard, Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti and Ed Westwick. Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes penned the script for this latest adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic tale directed by Carlo Carlei. It’s set to bow wide on October 11. Check it out (beware autoplay):
EXCLUSIVE: More than two decades after Jean-Claude Van Damme split-kicked his way onto the scene, the legacy of the Muscles from Brussels is making a double impact on Hollywood’s action game. Radar Pictures (The Last Samurai, Riddick) has a new vision for Van Damme’s 1989 martial arts actioner Kickboxer, one of two Van Damme reboots in the works around town. The original Bangkok-set pic from Kings Road Entertainment starred Van Damme as Westerner Kurt Sloane, a cornerman who trains in Muay Thai to avenge his brother’s crippling at the hands of a brutal Thai kickboxing champ. Kickboxer arrived a year after Van Damme’s breakthrough in Bloodsport sparking fan debate for decades over which pic is the better JCVD vehicle. (For its money Kickboxer boasted a memorable baddie in Tong Po, the villain who popped up in two of four subsequent sequels.)
Now Radar Pictures aims to reboot the franchise with Hong Kong director Stephen Fung at the helm. Fung’s hot festival run at Venice and Toronto this year landed him representation with Paradigm after his Tai Chi Zero opened atop the Chinese box office. The actor-writer-director is also repped by Principato-Young and is a partner in Diversion Pictures with Hong Kong star Daniel Wu. Jim McGrath and Dimitri Logothetis (Air America) will pen the Kickboxer script, with Logothetis producing alongside Ted Field and Nick Celozzi. Mike Weber and Peter Meyer will exec produce. Casting is underway now eyeing a fall or possible early 2014 start.
Relativity Media recently moved Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper‘s drama into the heart of Oscar season with a Thanksgiving week limited release. Check out the first trailer for Out Of The Furnace, starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana …
Relativity Media announced that Stacey Mooradian, who previously held executive publicity posts at Lionsgate and Miramax, has been hired as EVP Publicity. She will report to President of Theatrical Marketing Terry Curtin and will craft publicity campaigns for the studio’s film slate. The move comes after Friday’s hire of David Shane as Relativity’s EVP Corporate Communications on the exec side, reporting to CEO Ryan Kavanaugh and president Tucker Tooley. This is more restructuring after Relativity lost EVP Worldwide Publicity and Corporate Communications Adam Keen recently; the well-liked Keen is now set up at Warner Bros as a film VP. Mooradian most recently was a communications consultant. As EVP Theatrical Publicity at Lionsgate, she worked on films including The Expendables, Precious, The Lincoln Lawyer and the Saw franchise. As VP National Publicity at Miramax, she worked on Chicago and the Kill Bill pics.
Variety normally delivers between 3-6 copies of its print edition to Relativity Media. On Tuesday morning the trade hand-delivered 50 copies of the weekly with its “Debt Of A Salesman” cover story about the company to Relativity’s offices. Immediately Relativity insiders criticized the move to me as ”a desperate move for attention” for ”a highly speculative story with an uninformed premise”. Hey, this is progress. The last time a media outlet wrote about Relativity in any depth — Ron Burkle Talks Ryan Kavanaugh To The New Yorker — Relativity’s lawyer demanded the article’s retraction and removal from the website. I’m told no legal letter went out this time around — just company spin. Is this a kinder gentler Ryan Kavanaugh under investor Ron Burkle’s tutelage? Well, a less confrontational CEO trying to stay out of the press.
That said, here is Relativity’s on-the-record statement from a company spokesperson to me about Variety’s published gaze into a crystal ball speculating about Relativity’s debt repayment prospects over the next 5-7 years: “Variety invented a fundamentally flawed thesis and then tried as hard as they could to prove it. Unfortunately the best that they could come up with over four pages was one generic quote from a banking analyst and a silly attempt to predict the unpredictable — what may or may not happen in 2018.”
Off the record, a source close to Relativity complains: “Variety bases its piece on $100M of debt that Relativity has to repay over 5-7 years. Has Variety ever heard of refinancing? They don’t understand corporate finance. Most highly successful companies use debt financing as part of their growth strategy. And the only on-the-record quote in a four-page story is from a mid-tier analyst from RBC Capital. Is this the new, harder-hitting Variety? If so, they’ve failed miserably.”